On Sunday, Pope Francis prayed the Regina Coeli and gave his address from the Library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, able to give one of his first blessings to the Faithful in Saint Peter’s Square as coronavirus measures have been eased.

At the end of his address, Pope Francis called on Catholics everywhere to unite spiritually with the Faithful in China who celebrated their particular devotion of the “Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians and Patroness of China, venerated in the Sheshan Shrine in Shanghai.”

The Sheshan Shrine was closed on the feast day because the Diocese of Shanghai cancelled all pilgrimages in May to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

He also addressed the Faithful in China directly, assuring that the Church is close to them on the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, celebrated annually on the 24th of May:

“Dearest Catholic brothers and sisters in China, I wish to assure you that the universal Church, of which you are an integral part, shares your hopes and supports you in your trials. She accompanies you with prayer for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so that the light and beauty of the Gospel might shine in you as the power of God for the salvation of those who believe.”

Pope Francis also entrusted the “great country” of China to Mary:

“We entrust the Pastors and faithful of the Catholic Church in that great country to the guidance and protection of our Heavenly Mother, may they be strong in faith and firm in fraternal union, joyful witnesses, and promoters of fraternal charity and hope and good citizens.”

He ended by imparting a special Apostolic Blessing upon China in an expression of “great and sincere affection,” praying “May Our Lady protect you always!”

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